Monday, August 6, 2012

Hijab in Intersection: between Fashion and Religion

The value of ‘hijab’ - scarf or veil covering Moslem woman’s hair and supposedly laying toward chest- has transformed over decades. Let us look at surrounding!  We maybe enchanted and surprised by numerous women, young and aged, wearing hijab in different style and fashion. They do not look odd anymore, even expressed themselves creatively and freely by experimenting of wearing hijab along with outfits which fit. Chic, modest and stylish can be the impression. 

Hijab, -originally derived from Islamic woman’s duty for the sake of modesty and obedience to God- has turned to be a pop culture in my society. On this post, I would not judge those who drowning on this trend, since me myself often fascinated and hauled by this rapid innovation. For me, it is very interesting to witness and examine the hijab transformation and estimate the positive and negative consequences in the society.

Back to previous decades, I have seen woman wearing hijab. The number was still limited compared to a recent year. They had various motives regarding the commitment to wear hijab which mostly came from their pure intention to become more modest and better as a believer. From their appearance, they looked similar and monotonous. The way they dressed was just faraway from the tag of fashion; rather odd and plain instead. From Syar’i perspective, it would be justified because women discourage to deliberately attract male’s attention since all part of their body is considered as ‘aurah’. 

Recently, I witnessed the vast development on hijab world. As a matter effect, hijab connotes differently nowadays, in which the initial meaning of religion obligation has shifted to the artificial appendix of fashion. The massive transformation can be seen from ‘hijaber’-person wearing hijab- who pay more attention on how they look. Hijab now correlates with fashion, style and industry.  Furthermore, it should thank to the contribution of globalization, mass media and Internet in particular, which play significant roles for the revolutionary changes.

 Internet has introduced us to numerous Moslem fashion bloggers who all of sudden become newly public figures. Let us name it one by one: Dian Pelangi, Ria Miranda, Jenahara, Hana Tajima, Ghaida, Shea Rasol, Jezmin Blossom, and many else who happen to be hijaber, fashion designer and own their fashion-line. They are stylish and trend-setter among hijabers in Indonesia and worldwide. 

In Indonesia, the community, namely ‘Hijabers Community’, emerged as a response to the hijab expansion. They gather and share the same vision, values and interest in accommodating events related to hijab and muslimah. ‘From fashion to Islamic studies, from hijab style to learning Islam,..’ (Quoted from  The spill-over effect yet diffuses in swift motion. The community has developed their branch in regional scope in immediate period. Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, and other big cities in Indonesia claimed to have established the local office of Hijabers Community on their neighborhood. 

Positive effect: Contravening Stereotype
Moslem woman is often labeled as an object of oppression by Western perspective. Woman empowerment is an issue that Islam had been struggling for. We also can not deny that in another part of the world, woman is still victimized by male-dominated power. We are very fortunate to live in Indonesia, the country which the majority holding moderate Islam-understanding and woman is empowered here. Therefore, the rise of hijab fashion and Moslem bloggers will defect the stereotype that Islam oppresses woman. 

Profiling each Moslem bloggers with their accomplishment and principle will show to the world that woman, Islam, freedom and creativity can collide beautifully. It is a proof that Islam loves beauty. This perception will hinder the wrong conception about Islam and highlight the idea that Islam respects and values woman highly. Islam does not limit the freedom of woman, but regulating them in order to protect their dignity and humility. The massive trend of women wearing hijab in stylish and elegant fashion will also articulate the voice that Islam is dynamic and compatible with the modernity. Hence, it appreciates exquisiteness and modesty on the same shoes. 

Negative impact: Consumerism Alert
The positive side seems very constructive. However, I identified one major consequence of this hijab trend, which is consumerism. A large-scale industry grew within, from home industry to a well-known label. In hijab industry, like any other industry, opportunities are open for courageous and creative people. It becomes more profitable for those who owns higher capital and conquers technology and media, let say the digital marketing. I was alarmed then to welcome the consumerism waves which shadow thousands of Indonesian women.

The Moslem fashion blogger, -who happen to be designer and entrepreneur- regularly post their style and outfits in their blog. They also frequently launch their products, such as scarf, cloths, skirt, and blouse. Since they already become trend-setter and public figures, the customer will likely imitate their styles. They are inspired to dress and wear hijab as what they see in Internet or media and copy from their favorite blogger’s style.

Subsequently, I tried to observe the customer behavior trends by visiting several Moslem stores in my town. As I guessed previously, the display of the cloths and scarf are mostly replicate the trend of fashion blogger. And, predictably these sections are usually favored by many women.  As a result, hijaber behavior towards shopping is not based on necessity matters, but anchored in the line of fashion and style. They are prone to collect stuffs which are ‘happening’ and trendy instead of shopping what they really need. They do not mind to spend considerable amount of money to collect stuffs from different color and designs to fulfill their passion and interest in fashion.

This ongoing phenomenon is more than meet the eyes. Hijab in intersection, -between religion and fashion- there must be ‘traffic light’ and ‘traffic signs’. As long as it does not violate Islam rule, I am proud of Moslem's woman empowerment in fashion industry. However, to sum up, let us define necessity better and wiser. Beautifying our outward is not a sin, but it would be much better if we could beautify our inward more and foremost.

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